Wanju beckons with beautiful nature, traditions

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A visitor pauses to read in the Gyeongcheon Cypress Forest on April 28. (Wanju)

WANJU, North Jeolla Province — With the lifting of the requirement to wear masks outdoors, festivals and cultural events across the country are starting to come alive again.

Wanju, about a three-hour drive south of Seoul, is a small county in North Jeolla Province almost entirely surrounded by the famous hanok town of Jeonju. It is a calm and serene county that has recently become popular as a “BTS” place of healing and a “BTS pilgrimage” site.

At the end of April, the air in Wanju was warm and cozy enough to confuse visitors – it felt like the start of summer.

Wanju was dressed in different colors, the flowers on the trees blooming and the flowers sprouting through the ground.

Gyeongcheon Cypress Forest

Gyeongcheon Cypress Forest, which spans Gyeongcheon-myeon and Gosan-myeon, is one of Wanju’s popular walking areas.

After a 40-minute walk on a gentle slope that begins at Gyeongcheonaein Obok village, a dirt road appears, signaling that the forest is near.

A wooden bridge, which serves as the entrance to the forest, is a perfect place to take photos against the backdrop of lush cypress trees

With 15,000 trees over an area of ​​48,000 square meters, the forest offers visitors a unique experience as if they were cut off from the real world.

The 1.78 kilometer forest eco-trail is divided into two sections: a cypress section and a pine section. The terrain is relatively flat with some stairs and low, gentle climbs, allowing visitors of all ages to enjoy the forest.

Tall cypresses provide shade from the dazzling sunlight in Gyeongcheon Cypress Forest.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Tall cypresses provide shade from the dazzling sunlight in Gyeongcheon Cypress Forest. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

While tall trees provide cool shade and allow in a cool breeze, wooden benches and mailbox-like shelves entice visitors to sit and read for a while in the fresh air.

Daea Arboretum

Daea Arboretum (Wanju)

Daea Arboretum (Wanju)

Daea Arboretum offers brightly colored flowers in red, pink, purple and yellow.

Located in Dongsang-myeon, Daea Arboretum is home to nearly 2,600 different types of plants and flowers.

The arboretum offers different attractions each month, ranging from tulips in March and April to lilies from June to August and chrysanthemums from September to November.

But Daea Arboretum’s natural habitat for bleeding hearts makes it extra special in the spring.

Discovered in 1999, the 70,000 square meter habitat is visited by flower lovers to see the heart-shaped pink and red flowers, which remain in full bloom from April to May.

“It’s the largest natural habitat of bleeding hearts in South Korea,” forest reader Kim Byung-kook told the Korea Herald.

“Some people may wonder why there are so many medium-sized trees near the flowers. Bleeding heart is a shade plant, so we planted zelkova trees to help flower growth,” Kim added.

Visitors can see bleeding hearts in full bloom from April to May.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Visitors can see bleeding hearts in full bloom from April to May. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Aside from bleeding hearts, Korean fairy bells, peonies, and other flowers signal that spring has finally arrived.

Hwasan Flower Garden

Hwasan Flower Garden (Wanju)

Hwasan Flower Garden (Wanju)

Less well known is the Hwasan Flower Garden, another springtime destination covering nearly 330,000 square meters.

After a short 10-minute walk uphill from the entrance, purple azaleas greet visitors, swaying left and right with the spring breeze.

While seemingly endless azaleas dominate the space, wildflowers add a different flavor to Hwasan’s flower garden.

Awon and Hanok Gallery

You can spend the night in Awon’s 250-year-old hanok. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Awon, which means “our garden” in Korean, is a museum in Soyang-myeon, where you can also stay in a hanok.

With a 250-year-old hanok transferred from Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, Awon offers a unique experience of a traditional Korean house, surrounded by Jongnamsan of Wanju.

Awon’s tranquil atmosphere, with only the occasional sound of grasshoppers and chirping birds, is a great place to unwind and take emotional refuge from the hectic city life.

You can spend the night in Awon's 250-year-old hanok.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

You can spend the night in Awon’s 250-year-old hanok. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Famous as the filming location for JTBC’s drama “Kimchi Family” (2011), Awon became popular nationwide after BTS filmed “2019 BTS Summer Package in Korea” here.

“Awon is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Visitors can enjoy the hanok and the paintings and artwork displayed in the museum. After 4 p.m., the place is used exclusively for guests (hanok), allowing them to have a safe and comfortable time during their stay,” Awon manager Jeon Haru told the Korea Herald.

“Guests visit Awon as friends, couples and family. Their ages range from their 20s to their 60s,” Jeon added.

Osung Hanok Village

Surrounded by three mountains – Jongnamsan, Seobangsan and Wibongsan, Osung Hanok Village presents a blend of nature and tradition with the invigorating scent of pine trees, unpolished stone walls, stairs and brown “onggi”, a pot korean traditional terracotta pot near serene hanok.

The total of 23 hanok can be seen in the village, used as cafes, restaurants, hotels and more.

Located in Soyang-myeon, the center of Wanju, the village has also become a popular destination for Gen MZs for its stylish cafes.

With spacious seating areas, interesting furniture and an open garden with traditional decorations, O’s Gallery allows visitors to experience a luxurious break in the afternoon, drinking coffee while enjoying the beautiful landscapes and paintings of local artists.

A 2-minute walk from O’s Gallery, the Osungje reservoir offers a splendid landscape with the mountains and the sky reflecting in the water.

Visitors pose for a photo at Osungje Reservoir on April 28.  (Wanju)

Visitors pose for a photo at Osungje Reservoir on April 28. (Wanju)

A single pine tree became one of Wanju’s most famous Instagram photo areas after the seven BTS members took photos for the “2019 BTS Summer Package in Korea” photo album.

In response to the growing popularity, various areas of Osung Hanok Village are also featured in many TV dramas and commercials.

Doejae Catholic Church

A visitor visits the Doejae Catholic Church on April 29.  (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

A visitor visits the Doejae Catholic Church on April 29. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Founded in 1895, Doejae Catholic Church was the first church to be built in the traditional hanok style.

The second Catholic church built in South Korea, the Doejae Catholic Church was destroyed during the Korean War (1950-1953) and rebuilt in 2006.

Applying a Christian basilica layout to a Korean-style wooden structure, the church has a unique charm with stone stairs, a pebble-covered path and a mountain behind the building, features commonly found in temples. Korean Buddhists.

While the building remains a treasured example of the process by which Western culture was adopted into Korea, the church has become one of Wanju’s iconic landmarks, as a traditional hanok immersed in nature.

Wibongsanseong and Wibong Falls

Wibongsanseong Fortress (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Wibongsanseong Fortress (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

The grand stone fortress of Wibongsangseong is just a 5-minute drive from Osung Hanok Village.

Originally built between 1675 and 1682, the fortress served as a temporary palace and shrine housing the portrait of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Kingdom, and the spirit table of Yi Han, the founder of the royal family clan .

The fortress is also featured in a BTS photo album.

After climbing the cobbled and flowery path for 15 to 20 minutes, visitors will reach an observatory with a view of a waterfall cascading down the mountainside, a wall of blue satin threaded with silver, pounding the rocks and sending air visitor fees. , a welcome relief after the short hike.

By Lee Si-jin ([email protected])


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